Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: N/S


A 8

K 8 5 4 3

K 8 7 2

Q 8


K 9 2

Q J 2

A 10 9 6

A J 5


J 7 6 4


J 5 3

10 9 7 6 3


Q 10 5 3

A 10 9 7

Q 4

K 4 2


South West North East
1 NT* Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 NT Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: Take your pick!

“It’s very hard in military or in personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.”

— John F. Kennedy

It is rare to see a player endplayed at trick one, but that was West’s fate in this match between England and Denmark at the 2006 European Championships, after Peter Schaltz had opened with a frisky weak no-trump.

John Armstrong did well to stay silent in the auction and to lead the diamond ace. (Any other suit lets the contract succeed.) His diamond continuation was won by South’s queen, and two rounds of trumps revealed a loser. A club to ummy’s queen held, then declarer erred by throwing a club on the diamond king. Schaltz ruffed a diamond and exited with a trump, but now Armstrong could cash his club ace and exit with his last club, leaving declarer with a spade loser.

Armstrong’s silence over the opening bid reaped its reward, for had he doubled, Schaltz would surely have found the correct discard of a spade from his hand on the diamond winner. Then his trump exit would have seen West endplayed into conceding the contract. Either a spade or a club play would allow dummy’s spade loser to go away.

At the second table Colin Simpson reached four hearts as South, but here Gregers Bjarnarson as West had shown strong no-trump values. When West selected the club ace as the opening lead, Simpson quickly wrapped up 10 tricks because dummy’s spade loser could be discarded on the clubs. But even on a diamond lead, declarer would have known how to play the hand.


South Holds:

A 8
K 8 5 4 3
K 8 7 2
Q 8


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: Since you are in a game-forcing auction, a simple call of two no-trump is sufficient for the time being, giving partner space to describe his hand. If partner signs off in three no-trump, you will move forward with a bid of four clubs, suggesting delayed club support and extras.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


bruce karlsonDecember 30th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Were I West, I would not consider the minor suit combinations I was facing and reason: My partner cannot have much and I need only develop one trick to set this contract. As such I would note that there was no lead directing x over the Diamond transfer and partner was more likely to eke out a Q rather than K. Given that, I would probably under lead the Club Ace and hope to find partner with the Queen.

Obvioulsy there would then be no column. Is the lead of the Diamond Ace simply a guess??

bobbywolffDecember 31st, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Hi Bruce,

It is always nice to hear from you and, Top of the Season to You!

Yes, the opening lead by you, with all those tenaces, e.g. (combinations of cards which lend themselves to being led up to, rather than giving the opponents the option of playing 2nd and 4th, instead of 1st and 3rd).

It is an undeniable fact that it is much easier to defend hands when the sometimes possible meager defensive tricks are divided between the two defensive hands, rather than most all (or, in this case, all) in one.

Sometimes, only legal guile is available to the defenders in their zeal to mislead declarer.

My choices, in no particular confident order, are the Jack of hearts, 10 of diamonds or the more normal 2 of spades. It is really not possible to expect partner to double diamonds or anything else in an effort to help direct you correctly. Wage the battle fiercely and keep in mind that if you decide to lead the 10 of diamonds, you must be prepared to then follow low, and without a giveaway study, when declarer wins the diamond in hand and leads another one toward dummy.

Good luck in 2011.